Skiing in the valley

Craig residents take advantage of heavy snow by cross-country skiing

A one-time installment of $15 and a trip to a garage sale is all it took for Brenda McKey to stay fit cross-country skiing.

Thousands of miles later, McKey is using the same pair of skis.

"It's a cheap sport to get into if you keep it simple," she said.

About five years ago, McKey rediscovered a sport she first tried in the '70s.

Now, when snow hits the ground, McKey and her Weimaraner, Sam, hit the woods. Mostly, they stick to the Yampa Valley Golf Course.

A well-packed groove in the snow circling the course is a testament to her, and others', dedication.

When there's not snow in Craig, it's off to Steamboat Lake, Lake Catamount or Vista Verde.

If you can walk, you can cross-country ski, those who frequent the sport say.

A 155-pound person cross-country skiing for an hour with a light effort burns 493 calories, compared to walking at a slow pace which burns less than half of that.

Standing near the banks of the frozen Yampa River at the golf course, McKey and Kim Crisp clamped into their skis and prepared for their workout.

In the course of an hour, they will cover more than three miles of scenic, snow-blanket landscape.

"It's so quiet and peaceful," McKey said. "I love the geese that are out here."

As if on cue, a small herd of elk made its way through the trees 40 yards away and to the west.

"That's why I come out here," she said.

Crisp said unlike downhill skiing, it's easier to stop and look at the scenery.

"It's a good way to get out of the house," Crisp said. "There's no cabin fever when you're out here."

Although McKey and Crisp enjoy the availability of the golf course, they think Craig should cater to tourists or locals who would like to try out the sport. While the two have the gear, most looking to cross-country ski don't have access to rental equipment.

Groomed trails winding through snow-covered trees and rental places for newcomers is how McKey visualizes what she would like to see the golf course do during the winter.

"That's my fantasy," she said.

"I actually get depressed in April when the snow goes away."

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